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 May 19, 2002 | 1749 IST

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Simeone admits trying to get Beckham sent off

Argentina midfielder Diego Simeone has admitted he deliberately tried to get the current England captain David Beckham sent off at the 1998 World Cup.

Beckham was shown a red card in the group game shortly after halftime for kicking Simeone after he had been fouled by the Argentine. Argentina went on to win the game on penalties and Beckham was vilified back in England.

"I had tackled him and we both fell to the ground," Simeone said in an interview with The Observer Sport Monthly.

"As I was trying to stand up that was when he went on to kick me from behind. And I took advantage of that. And I think anyone would have taken advantage of that in just the same way.

"Sometimes you get sent off, sometimes you don't. Unfortunately for the English team that time they lost a player."

Beckham, who has resumed training after breaking a bone in his left foot, told The Observer 1998 had been a hard time for him.

"But I always felt I could get over situations like that," he said. "It was difficult at the time but now it's in the past and this World Cup is a new opportunity. I'm looking forward to putting all those old demons to sleep."

The pair could meet again at this year's World Cup at Japan and South Korea when England play Argentina on June 7 in group F. Sweden and Nigeria are the other two teams in the group.

Simeone said Argentina were always highly motivated when they played England.

"Quite apart from all the political history, the desire of the whole country is to defeat England," he said. "Every time we meet, this desire to win is bigger and more heartfelt."

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